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Rotary, IR schools, Publix start recycling plan

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Janet Begley, Special to TCPalm.com
Published 12:20 p.m. ET Feb. 28, 2019

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A new partnership between the Rotary Club of Vero Beach, Publix Supermarkets and the Indian River County School District is helping make the environment a better place.

Each school in the county has received a plastic bag recycling bin from the Rotary Club to collect the bags typically distributed by local grocery stores, pharmacies and other retailers. Children collect the bags from family and friends and bring them to school, where they will ultimately be recycled by Publix.

Dan Compas (from left), Rotary Club of Vero Beach; Ann Rieben, Indian River County School District custodial services coordinator; Chris Ellis, Publix store manager (Photo: Provided by Bob Michael)

“We are really excited about this project,” said Dan Compas, co-chair of the Engagement Committee for the Rotary Club of Vero Beach.  “Both Publix and Rotary understand that environmental awareness can be particularly effective when children are educated about the negative ramifications about plastic.”

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The program is simple to administer for school officials. Once the recycle container is full, an assigned recycling coordinator in each building notifies Publix, which sends an employee to collect the bags.

“As long as they’re not contaminated, then any bag can be recycled,” said Compas.  “While most people know that any Publix grocer will gladly take and recycle bags, many simply forget to bring them to the store. With this program, children take the initiative and bring the household bags to their school for recycling.”

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Kim Brunson, recycle and solid waste manager for Publix Supermarkets, suggested the idea to the Rotary Club of Vero Beach, emulating a similar program recently introduced by Publix in Martin County.

Discussions are underway now to expand the plastic bag recycling program to surrounding counties with Publix stores and potentially to all seven southeastern states where Publix is located.

Buy Photo

The fourth annual Vero Beach Pirate Festival brought the community together on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at Riverside Park in Vero Beach. The event included live music, living history encampments, pirate weapon displays, treasure hunts, mermaids, costume contests and various food and gift vendors. It continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, but a $2/person contribution is recommended. Kids can play all day in a children’s zone with a $10 wristband. Proceeds benefit the Rotary Club of Vero Beach Sunrise Foundation. (Photo: MOLLY BARTELS/SPECIAL TO TCPALM)

Compas said when he approached Indian River County Schools Superintendent Mark Rendell with the idea, Rendell was excited to implement the program throughout the district, including in all the schools as well as in the administration building.

The bag recycling program is just one of many green initiatives undertaken by the school district in an effort to reduce waste and keep recyclable products like cans and plastic bottles from ending up in landfills.

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The bins cost the Rotary Club of Vero Beach about $2,500, a small price to pay for keeping the bags from damaging the environment, Compas said.

“When we first talked about implementing this program, we knew it was just something small that we could do to make a difference,” said Compas.  “But we thought, you have to start somewhere.”

 

 

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